: Australia and New Zealand
: New Zealand
: Christchurch and South Island
Christchurch and South Island Vacations
Christchurch is the gateway to spectacular natural wonders that are strewn throughout the South Island, including spectacular snow-capped mountains, pristine glacial lakes, deep fiords, and expansive plains. Rugged coastlines, marine wildlife, and idyllic white-sand beaches contrasting with glistening black sand beaches, the South Island is not to be missed.
To fully explore all that the South Island has to offer, rent a car and travel and stay in any of the other locations offered on the South Island—or continue your New Zealand adventure by going to the North Island. When planning a multi-destination itinerary, keep in mind that while distances may appear short, travel time may take longer than expected due to the terrain and ferry service. If you'd like to combine 2 or more areas, contact a reservations agent for more information.
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The city of Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand's South Island and most fondly called "The Garden City," since one eighth of its land is dedicated to public parks, reserves, and recreation. Life in Christchurch revolves around enjoying its natural beauty and plentiful sunshine. It features an awesome array of cafés and art galleries, world-class wineries, Botanic Gardens, the famous Christchurch Cathedral Clock Tower, the tranquil Avon River, and absolutely stunning ocean and mountain scenery. It is also a great base location for exploring the surrounding areas.Package includes:
- Choice of accommodations
- Hotel taxes V.A.T. (Value Added Tax), city tax, and service charges
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should go?
From boating, called “punting” by the locals, to surfing, biking, climbing, horseback riding, and golfing, to sky diving, white water rafting, mountain climbing, skiing, swimming, surfing, kayaking, and more, you’ll find plenty to satisfy your adventure craving in Christchurch.
Christchurch is home to an incredible breadth and depth of restaurants and international foods, ranging from Burmese, Bangladeshi, and Japanese to Thai, Parisian, Italian, Indian, English, and plenty of fusion cuisines, in addition to steakhouses and traditional burger joints and cafés.
What's the climate like?
How do I get around town?
There is a free, bright-yellow shuttle that runs between the casino and the Hoyts 8 in the city center area. Pickup points are marked by yellow street towers, and the shuttles operate in 10-15 minute intervals daily.
Christchurch boasts an ample bus network, best to use outside of the city and within the suburbs, since most of the inner city is easily accessible on foot. There is a tram available within the inner city loop. Buses are usually yellow, although there are some red buses that are marked as free shuttles that run through the city center. There is also a Midnight Express bus that operates in the wee morning hours.
You’ll find that bicycles are an extremely popular and efficient way to navigate the city’s streets. Primarily flat ground makes biking easy, and there are plenty of bikers on the city streets to prove it. There are lanes designated specifically for cyclists.
What kinds of dining and nightlife are available?
Christchurch has plenty of variety to offer when it comes to restaurants and food—it is also a good place for wine and coffee lovers.
Brigettes Espresso Bar
Merivale. This café is extremely popular, so you’ll want to make reservations ahead of time. It features a homey interior and an open-air courtyard. The menu includes Eggs Benedict and Florentine, a delicious muesli (granola) blend, pancakes, and corn fritters. The lunch and dinner menus feature a delicious assortment of soups, salads, flatbreads, meats, and seafood.
The Bodhi Tree
Canterbury. This authentic Burmese restaurant stands out with an incredible selection of tasty foods. Try the famous Tea Salad, or go for a plate of fresh fish, squid, or lightly fried tofu. Other dishes include marinated lamb, beef curry, and coconut and chicken soup. No matter what you try here, or how adventurous it sounds, it’s sure to amaze your taste buds.
City Center. This Bangladeshi restaurant features a lunch and dinner menu offering a vast selection of Tandoori and curry dishes, all prepared to taste (mild, medium, or hot). Don’t miss out on their naan (flatbread), which is a popular staple in Bangladesh.
The Honey Pot Café
Inner City. This funky café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials and closes early on Sundays and Mondays. Choose the French toast or pancakes with cinnamon butter for breakfast, try a gourmet open sandwich for lunch, or for dinner, pick from a fabulous selection of pizza and meat dishes. There’s something here to satisfy every food craving.
Cook’n With Gas
Inner City. This fun restaurant is only open in the evenings, with the exception of an attached lounge that opens around noon and offers casual food. It’s best to make reservations if you’re looking to dine in the evening, since Cook’n With Gas is popular among locals and foodies. It features dishes such as the “Gas Grill,” which comes with beef fillet and lamb cutlets served medium rare with bacon, potatoes, and an assortment of veggies. For dessert, try the Chocolate Lover’s mousse. Good to note, this restaurant takes its time with its food, so be prepared to sit for a while and enjoy a fabulous and leisurely meal.
The Coffee House
City Center. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on most days, The Coffee House has a delicious breakfast menu, featuring scrambled eggs, pancakes, “Bubble & Squeak,” which consists of crispy potato cubes, bacon, and poached eggs, and more. For lunch there is a char-grilled chicken and bacon open-faced sandwich, a wild venison and beer burger, and when dinner comes around, choose a braised lamb shank, fresh fish catch-of-the-day, or a char-grilled steak dish. And better yet, there’s always freshly roasted coffee and pastries of all kinds available.
Drexel’s Breakfast Restaurant
City Center. A well-known icon in Christchurch, Drexel’s boasts an impeccable breakfast-and-lunch-only menu. The hash browns are a must, and you can take your pick from waffles, pancakes, omelettes, breakfast burritos, crepes, burgers, salads, and so much more. You’ll even find plenty of gluten-free items on the menu.
You’ll discover many regular concert and musical programs here in Christchurch, as well as plays and theater performances. The most likely places for a show are the Town Hall, the Theatre Royal, and the Court Theatre.
As for the bar/club scene, there are plenty of options. The Strip, located along Oxford Terrace, is a well-known nightlife scene that gets hopping after midnight. Also try the south Lichfield area, which features a number of themed bars, and is also a great place to ring in the New Year. From sports bars to jazz bars and everything in between, you’ll find plenty all across the city.
And if you’re out at night simply exploring, make sure to check out Cathedral Square, which is lit up and is a fun place to just hang out, if that’s what you’re in the mood for…plus, there’s even a Starbucks, with many souvenir shops, food stalls, and restaurants nearby.
Where should I go shopping?
Some of the best markets in all of New Zealand are found in Christchurch. The largest outdoor market is the Riccarton Market, which is open through the early afternoon on Sundays. The Lyttelton Farmers’ Market is another prominent choice: it’s open on Saturdays for a few hours in the late morning through the early afternoon hours, and features many fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, plus free range and organic meats, cheeses, and chocolates. Come with an appetite, you’ll definitely want to have breakfast here.
You will also want to check out the Arts Centre, especially on the weekends during the open-air market.
The Cathedral Square Market has been relocated to the YMCA Park and is held on Fridays and Saturdays. It features an extensive array of items geared toward tourists, from signature New Zealand wool to jewelry, bone carvings, and other fine bargains.
When it comes to shopping malls, there are 4 main hubs: Riccarton, Northland, Palms, and Merivale. Prominent shopping streets such as Victoria Street, New Regent Street, Lichfield Street, and High Street play host to many smaller boutique and fashion shops.
When are the local events?
World Buskers Festival
January. This annual 10-day event features more than 500 different performances by street artists every year, ranging from jugglers to acrobats to stand-up comedians and more.
Burst! Festival of Flowers
February - March. Christchurch lives up to its name as “The Garden City” with this event to honor all things gardens, plants, and flowers. Floral displays are seen all across the city, in addition to a wonderful selection of food, garden tours, music, storytelling, and even a tree-climbing competition.
New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival
April. As the largest combined jazz and blues festival in New Zealand, this annual event is highly anticipated and sports a great range of top musicians from both New Zealand and around the world.
New Zealand Antarctic Festival
August - September. This event celebrates the close ties New Zealand has with Antarctica and comes complete with a “Winter Garden” display and plenty of ice for all.
Tried and True Travel Tidbits
If you’re visiting from anywhere in North America or Europe, you’ll be wise to note that New Zealand’s seasons are opposite of what you’d expect. The winter months of December - February (New Zealand summer) are actually the warmest, and summer months of June - August (New Zealand winter) are the coolest.
An Excellent Base
The countryside surrounding Christchurch is filled with incredible views and adventures to be had. Make the city your base and take multiple day trips. Take a dip in a thermal pool at Hammer Springs, located a mere 90 minutes away. Or take the Coastal Pacific train to scenic Kaikoura, where you can spot whales, go fishing, swim with dolphins, take a cave tour, go horseback riding, and much more.
Good to Know
|Christchurch International Airport
||December - March
||New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
||16 hours ahead of American CST.
|Proof of Citizenship:
||Government legislation requires all people traveling via air to and from the United States and Canada to have a valid passport. For details on passports, visas, and health requirements, see Entry Requirements.
||Tipping is not required. Hotels and restaurants do not require or charge gratuity (with the exception of the holidays, when cafés will charge extra to cover the cost of paying their employees). However, a tip for good service is acceptable for waiters at your discretion. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, but can also be paid at your discretion.
||While New Zealand’s days can be warm and its nights can be cool, its weather can change without warning, so plan accordingly. Your best bet is to dress in layers.